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RF Cafe Is Back in Operation in Alpena, Michigan!

RF Cafe is back in business full-time! After a busy, tiring few days, Melanie and I have completed our relocation from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Alpena, Michigan. Why did we leave Erie and why did we move to Alpena? The answer is multi-faceted. Although we really like Erie, the state of society has really degraded there since we moved there six years ago. Property RF Cafe Relocated to Alpena, Michigan - RF Cafeand school taxes, while already very high to begin with, have increased significantly over that time. A news article from Erie this morning, read online, reported that school taxes will increase yet again by more than 1 mil in 2014 to account for budget shortfalls. Our township superintendent was dismissed (per reports) last year for cooking the books.

The economy is not great there, but that did not affect us directly since RF Cafe can operate anywhere with a high speed Internet connection. GE Transportation, the area's largest private employer, is on the way out as a newly built plant in Texas will eventually replace their function. Almost all new "business" is government, which only sucks money out of the economy in the form of taxes. Erie has also imported a huge number of "refugees" in the last decade and most, per newspaper reports, sign up for and receive maximum levels of public assistance and do not work. Half the people in Walmart buy their groceries with food stamps and carry them out to cars equal to or better than mine.

Ron the cable guy installing high speed Internet at RF CafePennsylvania state is massively in debt with public sector employee pensions threatening to force bankruptcy in the near future. Gas tax in PA goes up 9 to 10 cents per gallon in 2014, and income taxes are rising to help offset the budget imbalance. It's a real mess.

For no good reason, a housing price surge occurred in late summer, following an absolutely dismal year to date. Three houses on our street went on the market and sold in a couple weeks, so we decided to strike while the iron was hot. Our house sold at a open house just four days after putting it on the market. We made back every dime we put into it, which was the sole criterion by which we decided whether we would sell.

In the process, we had been researching other areas, with requisite features being as follows. 1) Dark skies for the telescope. 2) Peace and quite. Erie is plagued with incessant, very loud train noise. 3) No miserably hot summers. 4) Low housing cost. 5) Low property & school taxes. 6) Low overall cost of living. 7) Good medical facilities nearby. 8) Near a large body of water. 9) Concealed carry permits issued. 10) A mall that actually puts up Christmas decorations (Erie stopped that a couple years ago).

Jupiter in Gemini - RF CafeAlpena met all the criteria, so here we are. Our new (to us) 2-bedroom house is a mere 960 ft2, with a heated 1-car garage, sitting on 1.3 acres. There is deeded access to Long Lake. Melanie and I decided that with the kids grown and gone, we need to keep things simple and inexpensive, with low maintenance (exterior is all brick) and easy accessibility for encroaching decrepitness (aka old age), so a rancher with no basement was perfect. The Internet connection here is an incredible 36 Mbps download (3x previous) and 4.2 Mbps upload (6x previous). Upload speed is really important when publishing a website like RF Cafe. It is blazing fast!

A very nice pole barn (garage, actually) with a full upper level will be a perfect platform for my Celestron CPC 800 Deluxe HD telescope, eventually, complete with a rotating dome. The dark skies will be great for viewing. As I was laying in bed last night barely able to move and dead tired from all the driving (500 miles in a day) and box lifting (26' van packed to the gills), Melanie suddenly nudged me and told me to put my glasses on and look out the window over our head - there was Jupiter shining brightly amongst the stars of the constellation Gemini! I can't remember the last time I could see so many stars in the sky. The aurora should be fantastic.

Melanie has found a music school here to continue lessons on her violin, cello, and piano (Yamaha keyboard, actually). She is very glad to have a wooded lot again for watching wildlife - plenty of deer, black squirrels, and birds.

Alpena is just barely north of 45° north latitude, so we are actually closer to the north pole than the the equator. That's make Santa's ride to our house a little shorter than in previous years. Long Lake has about 6" of ice on it and the ice fishing shacks are staring to appear. An ice sail boat might be in my future. Melanie wants to me buy and restore a small wooden hull sailboat for when the lake is in liquid form. Overall, the temperatures are a little colder here than in Erie, but there is not as much snow because of no lake effect squalls. We traded Lake Erie for Lake Huron - right off of Thunder Bay. Our next-door neighbor has already invited us over for a venison dinner. Life promises to be good.

If you have bothered reading this long, then thank you. Here are a couple quick pictures of the yard.

RF Cafe in Alpena (southeast corner)  RF Cafe in Alpena (northeast corner)  RF Cafe in Alpena (south)

Posted  December 10, 2013


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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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